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Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994 . . Page.. 944 ..

MR DE DOMENICO: I can recall many times over the past three years, when Mr Berry was sitting on this side of the house, that members of the Opposition and crossbenchers happened to pick up little deficiencies that governments, from time to time, do not think about. So, Mr Berry, once again, I will take on that interjection. This Government is always prepared to sit down and listen to commonsense amendments. This is one of those instances, and we are quite happy to support it.

Amendment agreed to.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Whitecross, I think we are not proceeding with your red sheet amendment.

MR WHITECROSS (11.30): On the contrary, Mr Speaker, we are.

Mr Moore: It is a very good amendment.

MR WHITECROSS: Thank you, Mr Moore. I move:

Page 5, lines 21 to 27, proposed amendments to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994, omit the items.

Mr Speaker, my amendment is to delete the reference on page 5 to the Public Interest Disclosure Act. The effect of the provision is to create a power for the Government to exempt government corporations from the Public Interest Disclosure Act - which is the whistleblower legislation that Mrs Carnell introduced when she was in opposition. The effect of the amendment is to ensure that there is no possibility that, down the track, we are going to have an argument that ACTEW should not be subject to the Public Interest Disclosure Act and that employees of ACTEW who are concerned about things going on in the organisation which are not being properly addressed within ACTEW should not be able to seek the protection of the Public Interest Disclosure Act, as provided for in that Act. I might say, Mr Speaker, that I was rather alarmed that the Attorney-General of the ACT, in some earlier remarks he made, told us that my amendment was unnecessary because the Public Interest Disclosure Act was in here. What alarmed me was the quality of his ability to read a Bill. He misread it; but, fortunately, I picked it up for him. I think the Bill will be the better for not having the capacity for ACTEW to be exempted from the Public Interest Disclosure Act. I commend the amendment to the house.

MR MOORE (11.31): In supporting this amendment, I think it important to point out - and Mr Whitecross worded his comments very carefully and accurately - that it was the case that, under the legislation, it may well have been that the Public Interest Disclosure Act would still have applied unless it was exempted under the power provided in the Bill. It states that the Minister may, by notice in the Gazette - and I presume, therefore, a disallowable instrument - declare that a specified body is basically exempt from the Public Interest Disclosure Act. I wonder what possessed them to put this in here. I grant that we would have had the power to move disallowance. Nevertheless, we would have had to make sure that we had gone through the Gazette and picked up this one or looked at subordinate legislation when it was tabled. Anyway, I am surprised that it did get into the Act.

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